Civil Procedure in the State of Nevada
There is a big difference between criminal and civil procedure in the US. Criminal suits are pretty much straightforward with the only parties being the state against the accused. Not so when it comes to civil suits. They are simply suits which arise out of disputes between individuals, countries, businesses and even the government. So just how does the process work? Read on to learn more.
Pleadings simply refer to the documents that the parties to a case file in court. The process starts with the complainant serving the respondent with a demand letter. It is therefore safe to state that the demand letter is the first pleading that usually starts a case. That is not all though. a complainant serves the respondent with a demand letter, two things can happen. The defendant can reply to the demand letter or ignore it and opt to have the matter proceed to court. Should he reply, the parties may have an opportunity to solve the case without going to court. This hardly happens though especially where the defendant believes he has a high chance of winning a case.
Parties to a suit will proceed to court if the respondent chooses to ignore the demand letter. It is at this stage that the court registry may list the parties as plaintiff vs defendant. The plaintiff will file a complaint to court and deliver a copy to the defendant. The complaint should state facts on how the defendant breached a contract.
The defendant will be given a specific amount of time to set up a defense and answer the complainant. Several things can happen at this stage. The defendant can choose to deny, traverse and deny or file a counter claim. He may also file a simple reply or request the defendant to correct and clarify deficiencies his complaint so as to keep everything factual. Keep in mind that it is at this stage that the defendant can ask the court to dismiss the case for lack of merit or for the likelihood that the suit may be a waste of courts time if allowed to proceed.
The court, with an aim of ensuring that justice prevails, may allow the parties to amend their pleadings. Once this is done, the case can move on swiftly. The next main thing will remain with the court once it sets a date to determine the issues that need resolution.
This is all about how parties gather and exchange relevant information from each other or from a third party. The process is important as some documents can help lawyers and the court to asses merits of defenses and claims. It is usually long and may proceed all the way to trial. The rules of procedure provide that all documents should be requested through interrogatories. In simple words, you request the opposing party to issue you with a document using a form referred to as an ‘interrogatory’.
Parties may at this stage call expert witnesses to argue a fact or explain a technical argument in a bid to validate a point. Remember that where a party calls an expert witness, the other party is at liberty to call another expert witness. The court can however limit the number of expert witnesses in any case. Their main role is to illustrate the link between the defendant’s conduct and the loss or damage sustained by the plaintiff.
This is important as this is where the legal representatives meet in court before the trial to decide how much time they may take during the trial process to make submissions. It also happens to help the court find out if the parties have issued each other with everything they need. Note that it is not a trial at all.
Each party will start by giving the judge a brief. The brief simply outlines the arguments that each attorney will make as well as the evidence they will rely. Keep in mind that depending on the matter, the court may or may not have the jury. The judge in such instances will decide the case alone.
Each party will argue their case and call witnesses if they have to. The witness will be questioned by each party in what is often referred to as cross examination. This may take time depending on how many witnesses need to be called.
The final part, after all witnesses have been called involves attorneys making their final submissions in court. This is done orally and is often the last bullet lawyers have to persuade the court to rule in their favor. The court then sets a date for judgment or ruling after each party has made submissions.
The parties may or may not be there. Their attorneys on the other hand must be there to pick the judgment or ruling. This is usually not the end of the matter because one has the right to appeal if the judgment is not delivered on his favor.
This summary is a quick guide to understanding the civil procedure in Nevada. Click here to learn more about our Civil Law services for the Las Vegas area.
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